The proximity in Ricoeur and Pope Francis

23 Mar

Paul Ricoeur’s quote in the papal encyclical Fratelli Tutti is of a philosophical and theological dimension that few still understood, by separating partners from close ones, inspired by Ricoeur’s categories, the pope dialogues with contemporaneity both with philosophy and with theology and opens a new path for concrete fraternalism.

Although the tendency of Utopian content that the word Fraternity (the name of the encyclical is Fratelli, remember) takes on a new dimension when reading Socius et Prochain de Ricoeur.

It can be said that it develops a true culture of proximity, that is, it is not the friends of that group that I am connected with, of those who share a certain “identity”, the encyclical also clarifies these false concepts of identity that isolate us from others.

Ricoeur’s mention deserves note: “charity brings together the two dimensions – the mythical and the institutional – as it implies an effective way of transforming history that requires incorporating everything: institutions, law, technique, experience, professional contributions, analysis scientific, administrative procedures ”(FT §164), and thus incorporates human realities in the mythical.

It can be said that it is a realistic realism of a utopia of a better possible world, which cannot be reduced to an ineffective religious sentimentality that threatens certain conceptions that both mystique and good philosophy contemplate, going against the Other, proximity .

Another essential point of the encyclical is the misuse of the identity category, the Encyclical will say that “when they cling to an identity that separates them from others” and it is in Chapter III that speaks precisely of thinking

And the Encyclical alerts: “There are peripheries that are close to us, in the center of a city or in the family itself”. (FT §97), and again in Paul Ricoeur we find: “the neighbor is the very conduct of being present (…) the neighbor’s science is immediately blocked by a neighbor’s praxis: we do not have a neighbor; I am the next someone’s neighbor “(Ricoeur, 1968).

It is the misunderstanding of this category that leads bad philosophy to not understand what the other means and to give and this can be seen in the whole history of philosophy in the different conceptions of identity, the concept is in Stuart Hall and also Heidegger’s that identity is the degree of understanding that each one has of their own culture, but the topic is controversial and we will return to it.

Ricoeur, Paul “O socius e o próximo”, in História e Verdade, trad. F. A. Ribeiro (Companhia Editora Forense: Rio de Janeiro, 1968),

Pope Francis. (2020) Carta Encíclica Fratelli Tutti (FT), Vatican. Available in:

Fratelli tutti (3 October 2020) | Francis (




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